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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Joni Ernst Offers Another Dumb Argument for the Electoral College

The more Republicans argue for maintaining the Electoral College, the more they tend to undermine their own positions. I wrote about an example this week at New York:

The case for the perpetual continuation of that grand anti-democratic institution, the Electoral College, is ancient and generally (as my college Eric Levitz definitively demonstrated earlier this year) threadbare. But it’s useful to blow up defenses for it one by one as they arise, with the latest being a remonstration by Senator Joni Ernst aimed at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s arguments for abolishing the electoral dinosaur:

To state the most obvious issue, there’s something fundamentally stupid about the claim that giving voters everywhere the exact same power to elect a president is going to “silence” anyone. Besides, is voting for president the only way citizens can “voice” their opinions? What the hell is Joni Ernst doing in the U.S. Senate? Are her efforts just a waste of time unless presidential candidates are lusting after Iowa’s six electoral votes every four years?

Now it’s true that the “losers” — relatively speaking — in a shift from Electoral College to a popular-vote system would be closely contested “battleground states” that naturally attract candidate attention more than safely Democratic or Republican states. Presumably, Ernst thinks of Iowa as a battleground state, which it has indeed often been in recent years. But these things change. In the 2016 presidential election, Iowa was ten points more Republican than the nation as a whole. It was redder than Texas. Is Joni Ernst going to urge Iowans to tilt more Democratic so that the state remains a battleground, thus keeping their voice from being silenced? I don’t think so.

Generally speaking, Iowa needs the Electoral College to make sure presidents are aware of it about as much as the current president needs more self-esteem. Joni Ernst or whoever runs her Twitter account should take down that tweet before it really embarrasses her.

2 comments on “Joni Ernst Offers Another Dumb Argument for the Electoral College

  1. Ned on

    Now this is simply a silly take by this website. Whatever you may think of the beginnings of the electoral college, it still has its uses. It is intentionally anti-democratic (this is a good thing) one of the few measures we have to prevent the majority in this country for exerting its will on the minority. The electoral college now provides some political protection for rural folks (probably a dirty word around here) who have seen their social and economic power decline over the years as cities have taken over. In a country built on checks/balances on concentrated power, it wouldn’t make sense to give all the power (economic, social, political) to urbanites with the direct popular vote, which is exactly what would happen. Politicians would just pander to a few big cities like NY and LA and ignore less populated areas – its called the Hillary strategy. And that’s not good.

    At one point, the Democrats were all about serving the underdogs, the minorities of this country if you will – protecting them from the tyranny of the majority. That was the appeal of your party. Apparently once power is within fingertips reach, the Democrat party abandons its principles and becomes just as corrupt as any other political party – go figure.

    • Victor on

      We should require to President to win both the Electoral College and the popular vote or go to a second round of election (or do the second round via instant runoff).

      Same with the Senate. Instead of increasing the power of the bigger states (which is technically impossible according to the Constitution), we should elect an equal number of senators via a national vote by party lists.


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